Cultural weirdnesses

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starbug
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Cultural weirdnesses

Post by starbug » Apr 4th 2003, 5:48 am

Ok, following on from Lance's excellent language thread, it got me thinking about other little weirdnesses that exist between cultures. Let's keep politics out of this thread, though, OK?

I was just remembering a couple of summers ago when I was in the states hanging out with my cousin and her 2 kids (aged 5 and 7). We were on a long car journey and the kids were getting bored so I asked them what they were looking forward to most next year at school. They said they were looking forward to Halloween, and started telling me all about what they did the previous year. Eventually one of them asked me what I usually did, and I was forced to admit that we don't really celebrate it as much in the UK (hardly at all, in fact). They looked at me with deep sympathy and asked what we did instead.

And here's where I was stupid. I brought up Guy Fawkes night - 5th November, guys, bonfires and fireworks. So they were like 'what's it to celebrate?'. I had to explain that in 17th Century England (engendering a whole discussion on how old England is) there was a guy (Guy) who didn't agree with many of the King's policies and so conspired to blow up the houses of Parliament, using gunpowder. He and his band of friends were caught, tried for treason and then hung drawn and quartered. yes this really happened. In celebration of the foiling of their plot it is traditional to build a bonfire with a 'guy' (replica body of Guy Fawkes) at the centre, burning away. Fireworks are to signify the blowing up of the gunpowder...

What's 'hung, drawn and quartered'? Oh dear. So I explained it, as it was explained to me as a small child. Then I noticed that my cousin was in the front seat driving looking extremely concerned... the kids were goggle-eyed with delight but she was obviously worrying about my filling their heads with torturous thoughts and ideas of hanging people. Oops.

So my question is this: presumably kids in the US get taught about slavery and stuff in schools (we did) and how cruel it is, presumably kids in America aren't under the mistaken impression that everyone was always nice to each other in the olden times and that we should be grateful that it isn't like that now. All historical fact etc etc. Are kids in the USA more sheltered from that kind of thing? Kids in the UK are taught about history with no frills attached - I definitely knew the details of the gunpowder plot and slavery by the time had been in school for a couple of years (aged 6 or so).

Is this a cultural difference or is it just my cousin being uptight?

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Re: Cultural weirdnesses

Post by fnordboy » Apr 4th 2003, 12:25 pm

starbug wrote:All historical fact etc etc. Are kids in the USA more sheltered from that kind of thing? Kids in the UK are taught about history with no frills attached - I definitely knew the details of the gunpowder plot and slavery by the time had been in school for a couple of years (aged 6 or so).
:lol: You are joking right?

Our schooling sucks. We are taught convenient history here, ask most 12/13 year old kids today if the US won Vietnam and they probably think we did.

It also comes down to the fact that most schools can hardly stay afloat, let alone buy updated text books, etc. When you have 30-40+ kids in a classroom not much learning is going to get done. And after a few semesters of the kids not caring, the teachers start not to care and just go through the motions.

A friend of mine teaches religion at a catholic school (she is jewish...teaching "religion" ie catholicism at a catholic school....problem?) and the horror stories that she tells is just amazing. I am surprised most of these kids can write their own name.

It was the same way when I was in school. Rowdy kids who don't care, teachers who really don't care and lack of basic textbooks and space in the school. The more wealthy areas of the US have better public schools because they have less people and bigger schools, more of everything to go around.

And why the hell are they giving kids Catcher in the Rye and other younger books to seniors in high school or even college level course? That is something that should be read early on, freshman in HS (sophomore at the latest IMO). I don't know, maybe it is because I was taught to read at home early on and that reading is a good thing, but I was reading Herman Hesse, Bukowski, Burroughs, Joyce, Marquis de Sade, and others myself when I was a freshman in high school.

<sigh> need to finish rant

This exemplifies america...there is a "patriotic" song out now that the like sof Sean Hannity play on their talk shows one of the lines goes something like: "'cause we'll stick a boot in your ass, it is the American way." :roll: So let's all kick some ass and take pride in our lackluster intelligence. Our commander in chief does -

To quote the brilliant George Dubya Bush: "To those of you who received honours, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say you, too, can be president of the United States."

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Re: Cultural weirdnesses

Post by lance » Apr 4th 2003, 3:34 pm

fnordboy wrote:
starbug wrote:All historical fact etc etc. Are kids in the USA more sheltered from that kind of thing? Kids in the UK are taught about history with no frills attached - I definitely knew the details of the gunpowder plot and slavery by the time had been in school for a couple of years (aged 6 or so).
:lol: You are joking right?

Our schooling sucks.

It was the same way when I was in school. Rowdy kids who don't care, teachers who really don't care and lack of basic textbooks and space in the school. The more wealthy areas of the US have better public schools because they have less people and bigger schools, more of everything to go around.

<sigh> need to finish rant
A bit of drifting off topic here, fnordboy you rant away. Get this stuff off your chest. Feel better for having done it.

As for schooling (still off topic, bear with me Starbug) in high school we were lucky to get to World War II in history, never did get to Vietnam. I attended public school, most of the history courses centered squarely on the United States, Ancient Mediterrean history, a bit on medieval Europe and Ohio. As far as my education was concerned we learned NOTHING about Asia, the Mid-East and Latin America and the native peoples who existed before European exploration/colonization. When I got to college that was cool. I got to learn about the history of nations around the world.

Okay, back on the topic of cultural weirdness.

I and my family drove to Toronto back in August 1993. We stayed with some friends of the family. I absolutely love that city, so much to see and shop. At the time I was a huge Blue Jays fan and we got to tour Skydome.

Anyway we went to a video store to rent some movies. I looked around and saw that the Canadian made films were in the "foreign film section".

:shock:

I approached the unsuspecting teen clerk and said, "The Canadian films are in the foreign film section!"

She just looked at me like I was high on something.

"I said, but this is Canada right? A complete seperate, sovereign country apart from the United States, why aren't the American movies in the foreign film section?"

She just said that was the way the stocked them. Canadian films in a Toronto video store are shelved in the foreign film section.

Best,

Lance Man

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Re: Cultural weirdnesses

Post by fnordboy » Apr 4th 2003, 6:22 pm

lance wrote: A bit of drifting off topic here, fnordboy you rant away. Get this stuff off your chest. Feel better for having done it.
Well, I don't feel any better about it. It was just coincidence that I have been talking about this to other people over the last few days. Pure synchronicity.
lance wrote: "I said, but this is Canada right? A complete seperate, sovereign country apart from the United States, why aren't the American movies in the foreign film section?"
Huh? Canada isn't a state???? :shock:

Sorry to hijack your thread Starbug ;)

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Post by starbug » Apr 7th 2003, 5:23 am

Heheh :D

Yeah, I sort of sensed that American history was somewhat differently taught... I was more disturbed by the sanitised lives the younger members of my family in the states seem to lead. I mean, I understand the idea of childhood innocence and all that, but please.

Fnordboy, I recently had a conversation with my dad (an American) on the subject of rubbish American education. We came to a couple of conclusions: UK kids spend more time in school in general (ie we don't have 3 months off in summer), so there's more time to learn. Add to that the fact that American parents generally work harder (longer hours, less holidays) than British parents, so have less time to spend with their kids, teaching them alongside the school, and the situation is a little more understandable. In the UK kids start school at 4, but have usually been in 'nursery' interacting with other kids and learning the alphabet and stuff about 6 months before that. You can leave at 16 but most people stay til 18 now. The government currently has a policy of trying to get 50% of young people into university (I don't agree with this, but that's a whole different debate).

Undoubtedly, schooling here in the UK is getting worse too. Frequently I meet people who just don't have the basic knowledge and ability that was drummed into me at school. And I spent most of my schooling in inner city London. Now that's bad.

One of my other cousins (USA) has chosen to educate her daughter at home until she has to go to college, as she doesn't want her to mix with the 'rabble' of society that you find in public schools in the USA. She's also worried her child will be shot :!: If that's not f**ked up, I don't know what is. Well, actually I do. The situation where kids get shot in school is. My cousin's daughter will receive an entirely one-sided education, and will not meet people who are different from her (the only people she'll mix with are the children of my cousin's friends). She will go to college and suffer shock at the fact that the world isn't one-dimensional (ie white, middle class), as well as not being used to just starting up conversations with people who she doesn't know, and all sorts of other social skills people learn just by being in a large, diverse school. The family is in uproar about this decision as we are all of the opinion that it will do the child far more harm than good, but hey, what can you do?

Lance... hehe - that story did make me smile :D Thanks for Monday laughs!

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Post by lance » Apr 7th 2003, 9:45 am

starbug wrote:Heheh :D



One of my other cousins (USA) has chosen to educate her daughter at home until she has to go to college, as she doesn't want her to mix with the 'rabble' of society that you find in public schools in the USA. She's also worried her child will be shot :!: If that's not f**ked up, I don't know what is. Well, actually I do. The situation where kids get shot in school is. My cousin's daughter will receive an entirely one-sided education, and will not meet people who are different from her (the only people she'll mix with are the children of my cousin's friends). She will go to college and suffer shock at the fact that the world isn't one-dimensional (ie white, middle class), as well as not being used to just starting up conversations with people who she doesn't know, and all sorts of other social skills people learn just by being in a large, diverse school. The family is in uproar about this decision as we are all of the opinion that it will do the child far more harm than good, but hey, what can you do?

Lance... hehe - that story did make me smile :D Thanks for Monday laughs!
Starbug,

Anytime I can make you smile is a good day :D

Here is my tale of entering US public education. When I was 6 we used to live on the West Side of Cincinnati. Back then there were far fewer African-American families living there. My mom and dad were recent transplants. My mom used to live in Sumter, SC where as a Roman Catholic she had experienced some pretty rough times. One of her Catholic friends there had a cross burned on their lawn courtesy of the local KKK. This is the reason that my mom dropped her southern accent quickly. Also this is the reason that to this day my mom refuses to watch Forrest Gump, too many painful memories of the south she grew up in. My dad, a Mexican-American from El Paso, had just been discharged from the Army and had taken a job with Proctor & Gamble. I was enrolled in a Catholic Day care center.

Both were feeling a bit out of place living on the West Side behind the "Sauerkraut curtain" (a name for Cincinnati's predominately White, German decent, middle class, Republican West Side). The straw that finally broke the camel's back was when I apparently was heard using the "N" word (the derogatory word for African-Americans) with some of my friends.

Mom and dad picked up and moved to the Northern Suburbs were their was a lot more intermixing of black and white families. I was still send to Catholic schools. That changed after an encounter with a Bitter-Battle-Nun who enraged an my error in spelling of word whipped out her correctional ruler and walloped me but good.

The end of my Catholic school education. Momma bear sent me to public schools after that. I have to say that I look back on the public school education with some fondness. Like you pointed out Starbug, public school exposed me to a much broader diverse group of people. I met
my first people of Jewish, Muslim and Hindu backgrounds. I met people from all economic backgrounds. From what I have heard from others I definately would not have received this sense of diversity from home schooling or parochial settings.

Best,

Lance Man

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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Apr 7th 2003, 3:37 pm

Just had to add my story to the mix - I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. I have been informed by my mother that the public schools there were not up to par, so she went me to private schools for my education, not my religious upbringing which explains why I went to a Lutheran preschool/kindergarten and a Catholic elementary school. We were not rich - far from it - but most private schools are willing to make accomodations. I would also like to add that in five years at Catholic school, I only had one nun as a teacher and never saw anyone get hit with anything by the teachers.

I did receive an excellent education (despite the brown and yellow plaid uniforms that scarred me for life) and they even took us to a sex ed museum when I was in fourth grade. Although most of the kids at my school were white, there was a Vietnamese family and a few African American kids. Before everyone starts yelling that a few kids don't make an entire school diverse, let me clarify that each grade only had two classes with 15-20 kids in each class. Given those kinds of numbers, no, it still wasn't the most ethnically diverse place I've ever been but with such small numbers it's not fair to say that it was completely one race or another. When I moved to California, I found that there were plenty of public schools with the same demographics.

My private school education was very good - so much in fact that when I moved to California and enrolled in a very good public school, I was ahead of everyone in the fifth grade. Even once I tested into GATE (the gifted and talented education program, which I think is a total waste of time), I was still well ahead of most of my classmates because I'd had basic grammar and math skills pounded into my head for almost five years.

California public schools - the subject of many a debate. In seventh grade, we did world history with a huge unit on Greece and Rome. We also had a year long thing called "Geography Joust" where we had to learn the capitals of all the countries in addition to mountain ranges, seas, rivers, etc. We drew tons of maps and labelled them. The end of the year was dedicated to competitions between each class. Only one class could emerge victorious as the Geography Joust champions (that would be my class) - the incentive, a pizza party!

In eight grade we studied U.S. history and spent a month straight on the Constitution. That was the month that everyone hated - eighth graders would scare everyone else with stories of how horrid it was. I have to agree that it sucked mostly because it was boring. Ask anyone who takes constitutional law in college how quickly your eyes glaze over!

My high school's graduation requirement was four years of English, three years of math, two years of science, two years of foreign language, one year of European history, one year of U.S. history, two years of PE, and units in health, civics, and economics. Now how much of that knowledge is retained is questionable, but the district did make the effort to make sure we learned a good amount of stuff while we were there.

My high school was ethnically diverse, but I took it for granted until I started college. During orientation, we had to take a freshman entrance survey. One of the questions was "What percentage of your high school friends are of the same ethnicity as you?" The girl next to me marked "100%" and I was totally shocked because I had been friends with all different kinds of people (socially, ethnically, activity-wise, etc). She, on the other hand, attended a high school in east LA where the entire school population was Mexican-American. Finding stuff like that out made me appreciate my high school experience even more.

Home schooling - while I understand wanting to protect your children, I think it is to their detriment to isolate them in such a manner. Kids learn a lot of things at school, including social skils and how to interact with people. Besides, the kids WILL leave the house one day and how will the parents protect them then? There are a lot of dangerous things and people in the world, but you don't have to go to a public school to be in danger - heck, an airplane could crash through their house or there could be a huge natural disaster (earthquake, flood, tornado depending on their location). It's not healthy to put kids in a protective bubble - the kids AND the parents need to learn to cope with the real world.
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Post by fnordboy » Apr 7th 2003, 5:09 pm

Well, since work shut down due to the lovely :roll: springtime weather on the east coast, I will share my story.

I was public schooled my whole life and proud of it. I would never send my child to a private school, nothing is more valuable than a public school education, to me atleast :). I grew up in a very diverse are of NJ, and still live here to this day.

I went to a grammar school (everyone else calls it elementary school, but around here we call it grammar school <shrug>) that was pretty evenly mixed in races and cultures. A lot of Indian, White, Hispanic, Asian and a fair amount of Arabic kids. We just didn't have a lot of Black kids in my grammar school, don't know why that is, though times have changed. I would say out of all my friends growing up it was evenly mixed between all the races. I was a very good student in those years, like candygirl I got into the gifted and talented program (called PEAK here, no I don't remember what it stood for). Just like candygirl says, it was a complete waste of time. In 8th grade (no junior high or middle school crap here) a group of us took HS level algebra in the morning and were shipped back to hell..err..our regular school for the remainder of our classes. Originally there were 2 classes for each grade, but that changed by the time I was in 4th grade I believe where we had 3 consisting of about 30 kids a pop, more in some cases, and that is not counting the Special Ed. classes.

By the time I went to HS the majority of the white people around here took off and ran for the gleaming white suburban hills, thankfully my poor ass stayed right here. IIRC i think there was only 15% caucasians in my HS while I was there. Predominantly it was Hispanic, with a large number of Indians. I was in all the honor classes up until Junior year when I dropped out of all of them because they were useless. I stopped doing any real work in school because I found I didn't need to apply myself much to get a decent enough grade, I found classes to be dumbed down way to much and that probably had to do with the large ratio of ESL students as compared to native speakers. I didn't plan on going to a "real" college because I didn't want to do anything special, but felt required to go to college. I rarely studied for tests and cut a lot of classes but was always able to get away with a LOT of things. Living a 5 minute train or bus ride away from Manhattan didn't help ;).

College for me though was a culture shock. I went to a state school because I didn't have to apply really. One of their representatives came to my school, i showed them my SATs and they accepted me on the spot, even asked me why i wasn't applying anywhere else. Guess they have a low opinion of themselves <shrug> my scores were not that good. When I got there I had never seen so many white people in my life. It was in a wealthier area than where I grew up (a lot more wealthier), it was very strange to me to see so very few ethnically diversed people. I found college to be more of a joke than HS was and ended up dropping out after one semester. I got a job, realized I hated working and after a year and a half I went back to school. Of course I ended up dropping out again eventually, and never have finished. I originally went for a BA in Sculpture and ended up switching to a BFA in Photography, only need about 7 classes to finish it, but I don't think i need to waste my time on Sexism and Racism classes and bullsh!t math classes that are the equivalency of 6th grade.

One thing I realized while at school was that I had never dated a white american girl, unless of course you count my first girlfriend in 2nd grade..which i don't ;). The only white girl I ever dated was a Polish girl who was living here with her diplomat father. I have dated mulattos, cubans, chileans, and the above polish girl, and other hispanics. My current girlfriend of 8+ years is mulatto. Don't know why, maybe it is because of the lack of white americans here.

If this area wasn't going so down hill economically and crime wise I would love to stay here and raise my own children here. Let them grow up the way I did, you learn more here on the streets than you do in school. I will most likely move a town or two over, I can't bring myself to be too far away from the Hudson River.

I would never ever home school my child, I think one of the most important things you learn in school is social interaction and all the life lessons that go along with it. I know too many people who are book smart but can't interact or cope with anything around them.

I don't know what the point was to this post, or if I even had one.

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Post by Nostradamus » Apr 8th 2003, 2:03 am

Regarding homeschooling (and the related topic of unschooling), don't knock it 'till you try it! :D

Here is a good FAQ on the subject. Some excerpts:
Why are People Doing This?

The reasons are as diverse as the homeschoolers themselves! In the past, the most common reasons were probably religious and philosophical. Today, more and more homeschoolers are worried about issues such as safety in the schools (guns, bullies, drugs), the negative socialization of peer pressure, or the quality of education. Some parents just want to spend more time with their children or may view homeschooling as an inexpensive alternative to private school.

What are some of the benefits?
Some families feel homeschooling promotes a close family life and that children can continue the learning that they began as a baby in a secure environment. It can allow for the child's personal learning style, and they can progress at their own learning rate. More time can be devoted to the child's interests.

Other families feel they can provide a more challenging curriculum themselves, more up to date books, and better computers. Even staunch supporters of the public schools will admit that there are tremendous benefits to being able to provide direct one-on-one attention to students, and this is much easier to do at home.

What about socialization?
This is probably the most commonly asked question of homeschoolers! (Most of us have come to expect it). Homeschoolers have ample opportunity for social experiences. Besides 4-H, scouts, drama classes, ballet, gymnastics, theater (and more); there are many homeschooling support groups that form special-interest clubs, activities and field trips. (In fact, our children went on more field trips in one year than I did in all 12 years of my schooling!) Studies have even shown that homeschooled children are at least as well-socialized as schoolchildren, and some people believe that homeschoolers have more realistic socialization because of their interaction with people of a variety of ages on a regular basis. This includes both the socializing of friendships and the socialization that is important when cooperating with a group of people.
Here is a list of homeschoolers you might have heard of:
  • Albert Einstein

    Orville Wright & Wilbur Wright

    Alexander Graham Bell

    Leonardo da Vinci

    Benjamin Franklin

    The Moffats

    Thomas Edison

    Claude Monet

    George Patton

    Christina Aguilera

    Mark Twain

    Stonewall Jackson

    Robert E. Lee

    Abigail Adams

    Hanson

    Agatha Christie

    Douglas MacArthur

    John Quincy Adams

    Justin Timberlake

    Theodore Roosevelt

    Winston Churchill

    Booker T. Washington

    Noel Coward

    Andrew Wyeth

    Andrew Carnegie
(from http://www.penny.ca/homeschool/Homer.htm)
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Apr 8th 2003, 2:11 am

Nostradamus wrote:Christina Aguilera
That's enough of an argument to send my kid to public school!

:D
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Post by Nostradamus » Apr 8th 2003, 2:32 am

candygirl wrote:
Nostradamus wrote:Christina Aguilera
That's enough of an argument to send my kid to public school!

:D
Ah, but just think of all the hyper-annoying teen pop stars to emerge from public schools!

:wink:
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Apr 8th 2003, 2:49 am

I'll take hyper annoying teen pop stars over dirty skanky whores any day!

:lol:
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Post by starbug » Apr 8th 2003, 5:33 am

candygirl wrote:
Nostradamus wrote:Christina Aguilera
That's enough of an argument to send my kid to public school!

:D
My sentiments exactly. And Justin Timberlake? C'mon :wink: . The thing is, these kids didn't go to school because they were spending much of their time being popstars, or pursuing being pop stars. It's not the same thing as simply not sending your kid to school because you're worried they'll suffer some harm.

I'm with Candygirl and Fnordboy on this one... And just for good measure, I'll share my story.

I started my education in a village school in the midlands (area of England). That school was tiny (say, around 120 pupils altogether). Plus everyone lived pretty far away from each other so I didn't really know anyone else too well. They were mostly white farm kids from the surrounding areas. We then moved to central London when I was 7, and I went to primary school there. My parents removed my brother and I from the first school we attended. Here's why:

My dad is a Lutheran Reverend (this will become important... go with me here) but there aren't any Lutheran schools in London unless we wanted to go to an American or German school (nope). So we went to a Church of England school (roughly 60% ethnic minority). All was fine, until there was a change in headteacher. Alot of the old teachers left as this woman was a nutcase fundamentalist, and teaching at the school went down hill rapidly - she tended to employ nutcase fundamentalists to teach at the school. Anyway, my brother was aged about 6 (me 8 or 9, I can't remember) at the time, and one day at school he had a stomach ache. So he told his teacher and the teacher said 'well, you must have done something wrong; God must be angry with you. Go sit over there and try to think what it is you did to make God angry.' :!: :!: Of course, my brother started to cry and wouldn't stop crying. When my parents eventually got out of him later at home what had happened (my brother didn't want to tell them in case they thought he'd done something wrong and would punish him as well), well, I don't know if I've ever seen my dad so angry. They went up to the school the next morning and demanded to see the headteacher. After a lengthy discussion (I'm still not sure of the details but I'm damn sure my dad spent a long time lecturing this woman on religion and theology) and the headteacher completely backing what the teacher had said to my brother, we were pulled out of that school later that morning. It was pretty dramatic at the time. :wink:

So then I went to another school which was run by a very good lady. That school was also about 60% ethnic minority; that's where we had lessons of Bangla and learnt tons about other religions. In fact, until I was 14 or so, I had absolutely no school-based education regarding Christianity, even in the Church of England school. Most of my friends there were Asian/Black and it never really crossed my mind.

Then I went to a girls-only Secondary school in inner city London at the age of 11. Basically it was horrific. Again, church of England, again about the same ethnic mix. But lots of the kids had ESL and so classes went so slowly. I was consistently top of my class but still I wasn't really learning anything. Like Fnordboy said, it was no effort. There was a lot of bullying and violence. When I was 12 we had a gang war with the local convent school and several girls ended up in hospital with stabwounds. The police were stationed outside our gates to make sure we could get home OK and (as we had to wear uniform) we were meant to travel in groups wherever possible for safety, to and from school. There was also an incident which I vividly remember where a girl had her hair set on fire in the toilets. Thankfully I left that school when I was 14 (I don't keep in touch with ANYONE from that school - I hated it) and went to a better comprehensive in a suburb of London. It was far far more white and middle class (at the time that really shocked me and I hated it). There, after a few years hard work I eventually caught up with where the rest of the girls were and I went on to get really good grades, enabling me to go to one of the top 5 UK Universities for law.

For all that, though, I would rather have my comprehensive education than home-schooling any day. It taught me a lot about communicating with other people from all walks of life, and the fact that not everybody has the same advantages, through no fault of their own.

This is turning into a major post... just one more thing though: When I was in Sixth Form (that's 16-18yrs old) some kids from a local religious school joined my school. Frankly, they were weird, and nobody could quite figure out why. We spent a long time trying to talk to them and be friendly but they didn't seem to want to know us at all. Then we found out (friend of a friend kind of thing) that there was a reason. The school they had come frome was really really strict and fundamentalist. The kids had to sit in booths on their own and raise a flag if they needed to speak to the teacher, who would then go to their desk. They NEVER got to do any group work and all classes were held in silence. Seriously, the damage it did to these girls was amazing. It took them a full year before they would understand that talking about a maths problem, for example, in a group wasn't cheating, and wasn't abnormal. Even when they managed that, they still couldn't socialise with the rest of us at all. It seemed like there was always something that stopped them.

Anyway, that's the story of my education.

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lance
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school and stuff

Post by lance » Apr 8th 2003, 10:06 am

Starbug,

You raise some interesting points about school and religion. Fnordboy you also have caused me to do some serious thinking (my wife would say that is dangerous by the way :D ).

I think I have said this before, Joss Whedon was quoted as saying to a friend that he was starting a tv series called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A friend said what's that about. He said that its a horror anthology in a high school setting. His friend said, Isn't that redundant.

In my own experience, listening to others and watching MSCL the high school years appear to be so many mini-dramas meaning, what? Something, nothing and quite possibly everything...

I remember that the the public high school I went to was an experiement as was the suburb where I grew up. This suburb was near the community of Greenhills which was one of the FDR greenbelt, planned communities. This meant that all the houses were prefab, looking exactly like each other and this meant no African-Americans could live there, period.

The suburb where I grew up was an experiment: integrated, middle class housing made of 50% Caucasians, 49% African-American and just 1% other. This was the first community I saw interracial couples. In talking to them, back in the 80s, these couples would say that this was one of the few places in the city were they felt safe holding hands in public.

At the high school there was the usual gaggle of clics: jocks, preps, stoners, metal heads, nerds (or serious students as we liked to call our selves) cheerleaders and wanna-bees. Everybody trying to figure out who there were and where they were going. Funny thing was there really was no serious violence at the school, a couple of fist fights or girl brawls but that pretty much was it. Yet we would constantly hear from other predominately white suburban schools, "Oh don't go to that school, they have gang fights every Friday, its not safe to go there."

We had gangs but they didn't fight at the school. The high school was generally a safe place to be. The guys I hung out with were the "serious students" we got good grades and were thinking about college, kind of. This lead to some interesting circumstances.

When you get a 93 you got an A, pretty cool right? Well yes, except when you hang out with the top five students in your class. While you are getting a 93 they just got a 105! Talk about peer pressure. The day I beat the top student class on a history quiz I was doing the dance of joy. The guy, Jeff was his name, was looking at me like, "Dude you got a 95 a got 94 where's the happy?"

I was in full celebratory vigor, "Yes, but this is the first time that I managed to score higher than anyone else in our group." He took it in good spirits not wanting to spoil my moment of glory.

Egad this is turning into a long post.

Another interesting observation:

My parents got divorced back in '80 at the time it was me, my brother Paul and my sister Jessica. We all dealt with the stress differently. I sort of drifted along not really having a focus, Jessica became hyper-social: she couldn't clean her room to save her life but she knew everybody.

Paul took the opposite extreme. He, like I, got picked on a lot until the day he met Julius. Julius was an huge, African-American guy in Paul's grade. I don't remember much else about him except what he imparted to Paul: "If you fear nothing, than nothing can hurt you and people will see that." Paul worked out alot. Gradually he became very buff. He also withdrew from the teen social scene and just tried to better himself.

When Paul got to high school he told me that tons of girls were talking to him. Not having a similar experience I asked what was up? He said that girls would just come up to him and start relating their problems to him and asking his advice. I said do you know these girls, are they your friends? He said no. I said so what gives?

He said that they understood that he wasn't looking to hit on them and so they felt that it was safe to talk to him about stuff that they wouldn't feel comfortable talking about with other guys. So in trying to avoid them (and everybody else) he managed to attract them.

Best,

Lance Man

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starbug
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Post by starbug » Apr 8th 2003, 11:05 am

The issue of race and inter-racial relationships is something that really bugs me. Why do people get so het up about it? I remember (and this really isn't that long ago at all - maybe 5 years at the most) talking to my cousin (who is korean, adopted by my aunt/uncle) about it. She had a lot of trouble at high school because her parents and 3 sisters weren't the same race as her. It really hurt her that people could be that narrow minded.

Then she married a white guy whose 'friends' gave them both a hard time about the fact they were marrying inter-racially. He doesn't talk to them anymore but I know it upsets her that it became an issue... apparently when they used to walk about together around town they'd get glares and awful things yelled at them. Why do people even pay attention? Have they nothing else to think about?

Although I know I should look at these racist twits and just think 'oh you're so ridiculous you don't even bother me' but I can't help getting angry about it.

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